Unimaginative play-calling, repeat plays, what happened to the Weis we knew in 2005?Â Those were all things said/thought last year when ND’s offense (despite awesome awesome awesome 50 yard passes deep to Tate/Floyd plays left and right) seemed a bit vanilla at times.
And BGS did an analysis on what drove a lot of that vanilla-ness, and frankly I can never top that (and why would I try – it answers the question beautifully).Â The answer?Â Well, no TE’s.Â Okay, not none.Â One awesomely talented Frosh, and a fill-in Olineman, and for a few minutes Joe Fauria.Â That’s what we had at Tight End last year.Â Despite becoming TE U in terms of recruiting, we had 1.5 (Fauria was the half) last year, and both were true Freshmen.Â Â Â Ragone was out hurt, Yeatman was out drinking, and so that left Rudolph and Fauria.Â Rudolph, despite being a TRUE frosh, was somewhat ready.Â Fauria really wasn’t.Â So what does that leave as options?Â 1 TE and 2 TE sets, with the 2nd either being an unready Fauria or a fill-in like Trevor Robinson.Â And that GREATLY limited Weis’ offense.Â Â His pro style offense depends on, and thrives from, inclusion of 2 and even 3 TE sets, giving the coach calling the plays and the QB lots of options to pick apart a defense.Â Take away the TEs and those options get more and more limited.Â Easier to predict and to defend against.
Going into this year, we looked good to go with Rudolph, Ragone and Fauria all returning and 2 incoming Frosh to provide a little depth.Â Â 3 TE sets weren’t going to be the norm, but they were possible.Â 2 TE sets?Â No problem.Â Â Now with Fauria gone for the season, we lose some of that flexibility, and depth becomes a concern.Â Golic and Eifert are fine recruits, but they’re not close to being as ready as Rudolph was last year, so depending on them to jump right into the mix just isn’t all that realistic.Â And that means we’re one injury away from having an offense that’s hamstringed with a single reliable TE, much like last year.
Silver lining?Â Bobby “I ain’t at home eating a cheese” Burger.Â If this walk-on can really push for minutes, and can contribute in a quality way, we will see a lot less of a dropoff with Fauria’s (hopefully temporary) departure.
But yeah, Fauria being out sucks.Â At the least, he’s planning to come back ala Gray and Walls.Â
“I’m just taking it in stride,” Fauria told the Tribune on Wednesday night. “The plan is to come back.”
Joe, we look forward to welcoming you back brother.Â Hopefully Burger and Ragone can pick up the slack in the mean time, and help bring ND’s offensive flexibility/creativity back for ’09.